Standing together to take on the challenges of 2017
Another national election has come and gone. The future feels uncertain, as it naturally should following an election with such a sea-changing outcome.
But there are some things that are certain.
First, at the heart of many of our polarizing national issues is a sense of fear and anger that we are living in a time when working people like you and I get left behind when it comes to sharing in our nation’s economic growth. Too many struggle to make ends meet and to support our families, while those at the top continue to see their wealth grow exponentially.
This is an issue we have been fighting to correct both in our day to day contract negotiations, and also as part of a broader labor movement whose efforts include protecting retirement security, workplace rights, and fair benefits for working people. It’s an issue that drove people to vote, and also kept them away from believing in the system. It’s something we must redouble our efforts to confront and to overcome.
Secondly, this election has exposed deep, underlying divisions in the thoughts and beliefs of the American public. When we feel left behind, or not heard or misunderstood, it can be easier to turn on each other than to stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of adversity. We must never forget we have more in common than our differences suggest.
And finally, you can count on OCEA, your union, to be there when you need us and to stand with you against unfair attacks on you and your families, whether those attacks are aimed at your paycheck, your race, your sex or any of your rights. You all belong to an organization comprised of 18,000 working people who are unwavering in our commitment to fairness and justice.
We know some of those attacks are coming. Already, the new president has discussed taking away pensions for federal government employees and moving them to risky 401k retirement plans. Already, close advisors to our new President have indicated they will initiate nationwide programs that would undermine your rights in the workplace, your ability to stand together in a union, or the ability of your union to raise and spend the funds necessary to protect your family’s financial security. Already there are discussions about policy initiatives that could split up some working families, or that have left many in fear.
At OCEA, we have lived by a motto that has helped us grow in strength and numbers, even during the most hostile times: The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. This time is no different.
Your OCEA Board of Directors has spent the past several years investing in improvements to prepare us for any challenges ahead, and our work together will continue this year, particularly in our efforts to recruit and educate more leaders among our ranks. There is no better antidote to injustice than working people standing together.
We are also part of a broad labor movement that is committed to the principles of fairness and dignity for working people, and I have been participating in strategy meetings across the state aimed at locking in the benefits and rights we have today. Additionally, this year, I am participating in the National Labor Leader Initiative program at Cornell University, a high-level program for national labor leaders where we develop organizational leadership skills and collaborate on projects that make our own unions stronger and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities in our future.
There is no doubt 2017 will be filled with big challenges and big opportunities. It’s up to us to stand together to stand together in commitment to our valuesÑto promoting fairness on the job and in our community and to ensuring working people have a seat at the table every step of the way.
I am confident we will succeed.
If you would like to become more involved in our efforts, or to learn more about how to help, please sign up at www.oceamember.org/getinvolved.
OCEA General Manager